Ericsson’s marketing

Marketing includes everything from logotypes and product names to branding and advertising. When a company falls under public scrutiny, this can also be considered marketing.

In this perspective, Ericsson has of course been involved in marketing since the start in 1876, through its choice of logotypes, product labels and catalogues and its brand name. And it goes without saying that Ericsson has always advertised its products – to other companies and private consumers alike.

But if marketing is taken to mean a systematic presentation of products and brands that includes advertising, then marketing history within Ericsson begins in the 1980s. Telecommunications, which was the company’s principal market, was a regulated market, controlled by monopolies in most parts of the world, in which advertising was not really necessary.

Jan Ahrenbring, who is currently vice president for Marketing and Communications at Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, describes the situation before the 1980s like this

- There was perhaps one customer in every country, and marketing as we know it today was not needed.

The first change took place in 1982, when Ericsson Information Systems was created. Here the focus was entirely on consumer products, meaning that marketing and visibility were essential.

Seen from the perspective of branding, Ericsson Information Systems was not a success. Marketing did not conform to the graphic profile as set forth in the Corporate Visual Identity (CVI) developed the year before. In the product advertising produced by the new Ericsson City stores, it was difficult to recognize the Ericsson brand.

The legacy from Ericsson Information Systems caused problems when Ericsson in 1986 once more wished to enter the consumer market – this time with mobile phones. Jan Ahrenbring remembers this period well.

- Ericsson’s management was skeptical about investing in mobile phones. The negative experiences from the flop a few years earlier were fresh in mind.

The decision to manufacture mobile phones despite these reservations gave birth to the renowned HotLine concept. However, many people within the company reacted negatively to these broad, consumer-oriented campaigns, feeling that they went against the prevailing attitude of working without creating attention.

- There were many managers who were not directly involved in the mobile telephone business who called me to air their views on the campaign, reveals Ahrenbring. Mostly they said, “You just can’t do it like that. It’s not Ericsson”.

HotLine provided many lessons, both positive and negative. Perhaps the most important was that attention should never again be focused on anything but the Ericsson brand.

From the late 1980s, mobile telephones also assumed increasingly greater importance in marketing. Although Ericsson sold more fixed and mobile systems, it was the telephones that consumers associated with Ericsson. Based on this fact, and the realization that marketing must revolve around the Ericsson brand, the next major campaign emerged during the latter half of the 1990s under the theme “Make yourself heard”.

Author: Pontus Staunstrup

Telephone, 1888, table model

Telephone, 1888, table model

Brand campaign, Make yourself heard, 1998

From brand campaign Make yourself heard.

Ericsson's logotype, c. 1900s

Trade mark of AB LM Ericsson & Co.

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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